January 6th, 2010 By NIGEL JAQUISS | News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics

Columbia Sportswear CEO Explains His Opposition to Measures 66 and 67

Tim Boyle

On Jan. 26, Oregonians will vote on Measures 66 and 67.

Measure 66 would increase personal income taxes on those state residents making more than $125,000 a year. Measure 67 would increase both the corporate minimum tax and the corporate income tax. The biggest individual contributor (as distinct from institutional or corporate donors) to either campaign is Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle, who has given $60,000 to the "no" side so far. That's interesting because Boyle, a registered Democrat, has supported candidates in both major parties before and made large contributions either individually or through his company to Portland Parks and Recreation, the University of Oregon and Portland Center Stage as well as numerous non-profits.

For today's WW cover story, I asked Boyle to explain his opposition to the measures. His response was longer than would fit into the story, so here it is in its entirety:
I have a long history of supporting revenue measures for critical services, and also for providing financial support for schools. Unfortunately, this campaign was framed by political leaders to present a false choice -- these tax measures or drastic budget cuts - when in fact there are and have been other choices. I would have supported a temporary personal tax increase to get through this period. I would also support thoughtful reform of the tax system, a concept that political leaders chose to ignore in recent years.

Proponents of the tax claim "good" Oregonians should suck it up and pay the tax, because they can afford it. Maybe that's a decent argument if we can rely on "good" politicians to spend the money and take on comprehensive tax reform. But until then, I would suggest its also plausible for "good" Oregonians to move to lower tax jurisdictions and give the significant tax savings directly to the charitable cause of their choice in Oregon rather than hand the money to the legislature and governor to give to a cause of their choice (e.g.,
raising taxes on individuals in order to provide tax breaks for Hollywood film producers or tax credits to contributions to political campaigns). It is not about keeping the money - I intend to give away tax savings from repeal, but to do so directly.

On the corporate tax, my company is not affected by the corporate minimum, and can certainly live with overall increases in the corporate rate. It is the impact on other companies I am concerned about. The change in the corporate minimum, with its focus on sales, not profits, hurts just the type of businesses that the state claims to covet, start-ups with high revenues but little or no profits at their early development stage.

I compare the Oregon tax system to a stereo system built around an eight track player. There is widespread agreement that its not a good system, that there are better systems, and that it is outdated and needs improvement. But instead of working to find and implement those improvements, someone rushes in and decides that the answer is to just turn up the volume. It is important to vote on whether that is a good or bad thing, but in the end some people will simply vote with their feet and leave the room.
 
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